Fundraising Update: $96,000 in the Matching Fund for October
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In October we'll be kicking off a grassroots fundraiser to support SENS research programs, work that is aimed at removing the technical roadblocks preventing greater funding and interest in rejuvenation research. At present we are raising a matching fund for that fundraiser, and are seeking matching fund founders. As you can see from the title, we have met with some success - but I think we can do better yet. So help us out here. Join in and push this matching fund to a nice round number at the very least. Here are the folk who have donated so far:

  • Christophe and Dominique Cornuejols
  • David Gobel (Methuselah Foundation)
  • Dennis Towne
  • Håkon Karlsen
  • Jason Hope
  • Michael Achey
  • Michael Cooper
  • Reason (Fight Aging!)

From Håkon Karlsen:

Aging will be cured at some point in time. Of that there is little doubt. Until it is cured, however, a hundred thousand lives are being lost every single day, due to aging. That's more than 35 million people in a year. Nothing even comes close to killing as many people. Curing aging may thus help billions of people avoid the many years of suffering and pain that the age related diseases often cause. Let's try to cure aging now, it might just save (or, at least, greatly improve) your life, or the life of someone you care about. Please consider making a donation to the SENS Research Foundation.

From Michael Achey:

As a primary care physician, I watch the effects of aging every day. In practice for 27 years I have observed many a healthy, hearty, happy person gradually falter physically, dwindle mentally, and give up socially. Many of the diseases responsible for the senescence and death of us folks will be solved in the process of understanding causes of aging. From a strictly selfish standpoint (me and my kids) and a global perspective, I look forward to a day when a human body can live a couple hundred or more years to travel "Where No Man Has Gone Before!"

What is rejuvenation research? By rejuvenation here I mean repair and reversal of the underlying causes of aging: the various forms of cellular and molecular damage that accumulate over time in your tissues, disrupting function, and spawning all sorts of further forms of harm and dysfunction. Like rust in complex metal structures, the many varied failures suffered by old people result from what are comparatively simple root causes.

A great deal is known about these causes of aging, despite the fact that the scientific community argues incessantly over which are more important and how exactly they relate to specific age-related diseases. We can talk in detail about mitochondrial DNA damage, accumulation of senescent cells, build up of misfolded proteins called amyloids between cells and metabolic waste called lipofuscin within cells, harmful cross-links that gum together important proteins, and so forth. For all these forms of damage there exist research plans that lead to plausible treatments. In most cases there is a trickle of progress towards establishing these solutions, ways to reverse damage accumulation and remove the harm that has been done already in old people. That trickle must become a flood if we are to see significant progress towards reversal of aging and defeat of age-related disease in our lifetimes. The first prospective treatments don't even have to fix everything - they just have to fix most of the harm in every category. We go through life in our thirties to our fifties with a fair level of damage, but comparatively low mortality rates: there is a threshold past which things spiral downwards, and for so long as we can maintain ourselves beneath that threshold of damage then we are set for a long term of health and vigor without pain or suffering or disability.

This is why it is important to raise funds for well-run organizations like the SENS Research Foundation, groups that are in a position to remove the roadblock that prevents the small amount of research today from becoming a large amount of research tomorrow. Invariably there is a tipping point in any line of research: before the point is reached every for-profit investor and institutional research fund will look for something else that is further along, with less risk. After the tipping point, the early pioneers are quickly buried and forgotten beneath a torrent of funding and mainstream research interest. Our job is to move SENS rejuvenation research to the tipping point: fund the work that builds the toolkits, the proofs of concept, the initial databases, and all the other comparatively simple, low cost items that are yet pending. We want to be buried in interest: bring it on. Biotechnology is cheap these days; a smart young researcher can undertake significant cutting edge prototype work in medical research in six months and for a few tens of thousands of dollars given an established lab to work in.

What is the greatest difference you can make in the world? To my eyes it is saving as many lives and preventing as much pain as possible. Aging and the death and suffering it causes is the worst thing we suffer, and far more should be done to stop it than is present being accomplished. If you agree with me on this point, then step up and help to do something about it! Make the world a better place in one of the few ways that will touch everyone.

Comments

I'll make my small contribution, and I'll spread the word to friends hopefully year by year the donations will grow to SENS and they can move at a much faster pace with couple visible results soon.

I would like to make few suggestions to SENS (other people on this blog suggested similar things):

1. SENS needs to organize better their web site. I sent people to look at and they were quite confused (there is a "outreach blog" and there is a "research blog" ... myself I did not remember on which of the blogs I red some articles).
The web site needs to be very easy to navigate, with SENS mission and vision on the front page (simple to read and understand) and with the achievements/milestones and donation button on front page. Then research and other things on second page. People that are familiar with SENS work will navigate to research, but people that get there first time, needs a simple "mission and vision" and "results" on the first page.

2. SENS needs to change their marketing strategy in order to attract serious funds. They have to be more "pragmatic" and team up with companies that are ready to move on the "production" side and could and would put something on the market soon. Otherwise all these nice/great/spectacular research strategies will end up being shelved. SENS needs to move from their "ivory tower" into real world and "get their feet wet" and produce something that people can feel it in action.
Also keep in mind that quite few companies (like CALIco) have serious money behind, SENS is in a swim together with these big boys. You cannot be a player if you do not have adequate funds.

3. While I'm not a big fan of "cosmetic rejuvenation" (skin, hair, muscles, bones = the look), I suggest that they will pursue first this one, and put something on the market soon. I believe this approach will yield a lot of revenues in a shortest time possible, while requires less research than the deep rejuvenation technologies. Also people will trust a lot SENS if it will come up on the market with a "cosmetic" solution, and donations/funding for other fundamental research won't be a problem.

Posted by: alc at July 28, 2014 9:05 PM

@acl

1. Redesign www.sens.org - websites could always be better. Ask 10 people and you will get 20 designs (theirs and their mother's). I think a better thing to focus time on might be setting up a great facebook page (one of the better examples is that of Harley Davidson). But any website/page needs content to keep people coming back. Even reposting stuff to it would be quite a bit of work, and reformatting it to look nice would be even more time consuming.

2. Teaming up with companies - companies won't invest until their is a treatment drug that could work in humans and has been show to work and have benefits in an animal model. Companies are not interested in basic scientific research most of the time. Hence why governments address this 'market failure' by funding blue sky research at universities. I don't think teaming up with companies is going to happen until in-vivo studies are out there.

3. Cosmetic rejuvenation - Yes this probably will be one of the first areas the wider public takes note of. I think SENS is already focusing on this anyway. If you took a person and removed senescent cells, glucospane collagen crosslinks, and mtDNA damage perhaps their skin would look younger?

Posted by: Jim at July 28, 2014 11:49 PM

@alc's points 2 and 3:
I haven't anything to indicate that SRF has not sought to build as many partnerships as possible and to push the technology toward applications as fast as possible. It seems to me that the SENS approach as a whole is already pragmatically oriented and focused on moving as quickly as possible toward the goal of actually removing damage from the body. Some of the necessary components of rejuvenation biotech are simply too early-stage as yet, and no strategic reorientation will change that, only time, resources and progress. I think that food chain and competitive game playing analogies are misplaced when we're talking about a scientific research charity like SRF. The idea that Calico etc. having a lot of money somehow hurts SRF's competitiveness is bizarre.

As far as cosmetic rejuvenation goes I am rather a big fan, because I wouldn't want to live indefinitely as a blotchy, shrivelled, slumped-over, dessicated bag of bones that nobody wants to touch, much less have sex with. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, the causes for cosmetic aging are the same set as for the rest of aging, so you won't solve one without the other anyway. I think your statement contrasting cosmetic with "deep" rejuvenation technologies is a false distinction. To get down to specifics: glucosepane crosslinks adversely affect the texture and quality of skin but also contribute to the aetiology of ED, high blood pressure, kidney disease, etc. There are many more examples like that. Any shift in emphasis toward cosmetics would have to be mostly rhetorical, because SRF would still need to push the same projects.

If a nascent cosmetic rejuvenation industry is champing at the bit to get underway, then what's the hold up with myostatin-targetting drugs? Fact is, anything assocatied with cosmetics or enhancement has a low reputation in the stolid scientifc community and with beaurocrats even if the market potential is there.

Posted by: José at July 28, 2014 11:58 PM

@ Jim #3 - I believe that is true, removing those causes of aging will result in a younger person, including the overall look. But what I was referring to, was that SENS should use a marketing strategy to accelerate that segment of their research ("cosmetic rejuvenation"), to put something soon on the market, while not disrupting their overall research process. I believe that is a very good marketing strategy that will result in more (significant) funds to their research.
on #2 That is not always the case. There are lots biotech companies that start from scratch their research and move to clinical trials, then put on the market a drug. And even that was the case, why not to take a different approach and try to team up with interested entities in reverse aging. SENS is/should not follow on the same old patterns like others did.

@ Reason - do you think is a good idea to start "local chapters" to promote and raise funds for SENS? I live in Ohio, and I'm sure there will be a handful of interested people to promote this idea. We can organize small fundraising campaigns for SENS and present every month the progress that SENS made in reverse aging. Any suggestions? thanks!

Posted by: alc at August 2, 2014 6:10 PM

@alc: Local chapters is the model for the International Longevity Alliance, though they are more modeled on and aiming for political organization as much as research fundraising, where this is more of an established starting point.

http://longevityalliance.org/

Local groups for supporting research is sensible; you might look at the Health Extension salon as an example of an evolved sort of meetup:

http://healthextension.co/

Organizing fundraising of any sort locally is a good thing, and more people should be trying it. As a community we have less of a history of this as it is only comparatively recently that we attained critical mass, which was through the Internet: widely dispersed people with similar ideas finding one another and collaborating online.

But we absolutely should be running the same sorts of local events that cancer research supporters run. The critical path for SENS is funding, and will be funding for the foreseeable future: there are many researchers who would be working on SENS if the money was there. The value of grassroots fundraising is that it leads to large-scale fundraising. The latter cannot happen without a groundswell of the former.

Posted by: Reason at August 2, 2014 6:28 PM
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